InnovateHER, from the Small Business Administration (SBA) is a cross-cutting prize competition to unearth innovative products and services that help impact and empower the lives of women and families. Entrepreneurs selected as winners in local competitions will advance to the semi-final round. From the pool of semifinalists, SBA will select up to 10 finalists who will be invited to the National InnovateHER: Innovating for Women Business Challenge. The finalists will pitch their products and ideas to a panel of expert judges and compete for the top three awards and a total of $70,000 in prizes.

Contestants must develop a product or service that meets the following three Challenge criteria:
• Has a measurable impact on the lives of women and families (30%);
• Has the potential for commercialization (40%); and
• Fills a need in the marketplace (30%).

If you are up for the challenge, STEP 1 is to enter a local competition. To enter the competition at Brookdale Community College in Lincroft, NJ, submit your business plan per the Challenge Criteria to mosbdc@brookdalecc.edu by May 17, 2017. 
Finalists will be notified on May 24, 2017.
The top 5 selected finalists will pitch to the panel on June 2, 2017.

Entrepreneurs selected as winners in local competitions will advance to the semi-final round.
From the pool of semifinalists, SBA will select up to 10 finalists who will be invited to the National InnovateHER: Innovating for Women Business Challenge to be held in mid-2017. The finalists will pitch their products and ideas to a panel of expert judges and compete for the top three awards and a total of $70,000 in prizes.

Additional details:

Small Business Administration (SBA) How to Write a Business Plan information https://www.sba.gov/starting-business/write-your-business-plan and

Small Business Administration (SBA) Business Financials (minimum Break-Even and Cash Flow) https://www.sba.gov/starting-business/business-financials

2017 InnovateHER Challenge can be found at https://www.challenge.gov/challenge/2017-innovateher-innovating-for-women-business-challenge/

Women are in the workforce now more than ever, a number that is close to surpassing that of men. Gender equality is not simply about getting a woman a spot at the metaphorical table. Women have made great strides in education, the workforce, and their role in the economy, but there are still not enough women in leadership positions.

SBA recognizes that over the past two decades, women entrepreneurs have been critical to growing businesses and creating jobs, whether it’s in in cutting-edge fields like precision medicine or cybersecurity or through advances in agriculture or manufacturing. Consider this: the number of women venture capital partners has dropped to 6 percent in 2014, down from 10 percent in 1999. This directly correlated with women’s access to capital; only about 7 percent of venture capital funding in the United States goes to women. A Harvard Business School study asked potential investors to rate a series of pitches, some of which were narrated by women and some by men. Even when the scripts were exactly the same, only 32 percent of people said they’d fund the woman, compared to 68 percent who said they would fund the man.

FAQs:

1. What is the purpose of the Challenge?
 The SBA launched the first InnovateHER Challenge in February 2015 with the goal of unearthing products and services across the U.S. that help impact and empower the lives of women and families.
 We know that our workforce looks very different from 50 years ago. Women now make up nearly half of the labor force and play a critical role in our nation’s economic prosperity. Most children live in households where all parents work. And as our population ages, families are increasingly caring for aging parents while balancing the needs of work and home.
 As the demands on women and families grow, the need for products and services that address these unique challenges increases. The InnovateHER Challenge provides that platform.
2. What are the Challenge criteria?
 The SBA is looking for entrepreneurs to create a product or service that meets the following three (3) criteria:
(1) has a measurable impact on the lives of women and families (30%);
(2) has the potential for commercialization (40%); and
(3) fills a need in the marketplace (30%).
3. How does the Challenge work?
 The Challenge will take the form of local competitions that will be run across the country beginning as early as December 29, 2016 and ending no later than June 3, 2017. These local competitions will be hosted by organizations such as universities and colleges, incubators, accelerators, clusters, scale-up communities, SBA Resource Partners. See Question 14 for more information if your organization is interested in hosting a local competition. All host organizations must be approved by SBA, and all local InnovateHER competitions must be conducted in a manner that is consistent with the Challenge Rules as defined by SBA.
 Following the completion of the local competitions, but no later than June 3, 2017, each host organization will identify one winner that will advance to the semi-final round of the Challenge. In the case of a winning team, the host organization must provide the name of the team’s self-identified project lead as the winner who will advance to the semi-final round. On or before June 23, 2017, the host organizations will submit the name of the winner along with a Nomination Package containing a business plan and other required information to SBA via www.Challenge.gov. See Question 16 for the full requirements of the Nomination Package.
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Frequently Asked Questions Frequently Asked QuestionsFrequently Asked QuestionsFrequently Asked Questions Frequently Asked Questions Frequently Asked Questions Frequently Asked Questions
 In the semi-final round of the Challenge, SBA will review the Nomination Packages submitted by the local host organizations and select up to 10 Finalists.
 The Finalists will be offered the opportunity to make a live marketing pitch to a panel of expert judges drawn from the private sector and compete for up to $70,000 in cash prizes, donated by the Sara Blakely Foundation.
 The panel of judges will select a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winner whose pitches best satisfy the Challenge criteria and present the greatest potential for success.
4. Where can I find a complete list of the Challenge Rules?
 The Challenge Rules are posted at www